Spring 2015 - Graduate Course Descriptions

Rabe, Steve
Discipline and Number
HUHI 6320 Section 001
W Time 1:00 PM - 3:45 PM
Course Title
Vietnam and Iraq

Description of Course:

The U.S. military adventures in Vietnam (1945-75) and in Iraq (2003-) represent two monumental foreign-policy failures in U.S. history. The United States suffered political and military losses at the hands of the North Vietnamese and their allies in the South, the Viet Cong. And the endless conflict in Iraq merits the ironic title of "Mission Unaccomplished."

Operating under the HUHI 6320 rubric of "Perceptions of the Past," this course will analyze the reaction and response of American society and American artists to these two epic debacles. We will examine how U.S. citizens, bred on a history of success, interpret these defeats and compare the similarities and differences to their reactions to failure in Vietnam and Iraq. We will spend the first six weeks of the course gaining a basic knowledge of the political, diplomatic, and ideological issues of both conflicts. We will then compare two memoirs of the respective conflicts and read six novels, three about Vietnam and three about Iraq. We will also look at poetry that has emerged from the two conflicts. As we read, we will also view documentaries and feature films, such as Apocalypse Now, Coming Home, The Messenger, The Hurt Locker, and Zero Dark Thirty.

Required Texts:

Duong Van Mai Elliot, The Sacred Willow.
David Halberstam, Ho.
Michael Hunt, Lyndon Johnson's War.
Lawrence Wright, The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11.
Jim Dwyer and Kevin Flynn, 102 Minutes: The Unforgettable Story of the Fight to Survive Inside the Twin Towers.
Terry Anderson, Bush's Wars.
Philip Caputo, A Rumor of War.
Brian Turner, My Life as a Foreign Country: A Memoir.
Kevin Powers, Yellow Birds.
Karl Marlantes, Matterhorn: A Novel of the Vietnam War.
Larry Heinemann, Paco's Story.
Ben Fountain, Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk.
Tim O’Brien, The Things They Carried.
Phil Klay, Redeployment.

Course Requirements/Evaluation Criteria:

Faithful attendance at seminar sessions; vigorous and informed participation in seminar discussions; submission of a series (8-12) of short (1,000-1,250 words) papers based on assigned readings. Final grade will be based on instructor's evaluation of student's entire effort in class.

Class attendance is essential and critical to good academic performance in a graduate seminar. Students must also complete each reading assignment on time in order to facilitate seminar discussions. Please note that that we will be staying until 3:45 p.m. each seminar session, because we will be viewing documentary and feature films, in addition to discussing and analyzing the readings.

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